You should read Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees: And Editor’s Advice to Writers.
Indeed, an editor enjoys nothing more than being startled awake by a particularly witty or moving letter or reading the fresh pages of an extremely well-written manuscript and finding that the world receded as she becomes more deeply involved in the pages. …
Too many writers, in trying to secure the services of a literary agent or publisher, simply do not do their homework. The best way to get an agent’s or an editor’s attention is to write an intelligent and succinct letter. And then send it to the right person.
… Many writers becomes agitated, and some turn hostile, as if those of us in the corridors of publishing were deliberately trying to sabotage their careers. Granted, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a response for weeks or months and then getting only a form letter. However, a form letter is all that any agent or editor owes you.
In school I did my homework and got mediocre grades. I was an average student. Quite possibly I am mediocre at writing a query letter and finding the right person. I check Preditors & Editors, author websites, agent websites, google, Writer’s Digest, and Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents. I haven’t gotten an agent. We can conclude that my homework skills are not what they should be.
No one suffers as much as the rejected writer. If he isn’t beating himself up, he is expanding a fair amount of energy feeling slighted and neglected and in some cases downright robbed when a writer of similar age or background makes it. He doesn’t stop to consider that the other writer may be worthy; the very fact that others are able to get published is like salt in the wide-open wound of a writer’s psyche.
I read agent blogs and they seem like nice, smart people who love books. They’ve got to make a living too and taking on books that won’t sell doesn’t pay the rent. It isn’t their fault if my book isn’t marketable.
I’ve read 45 books on writing & publishing. I’ve spent years writing and rewriting. Maybe I can’t write a marketable novel. Just saying. All that salt pouring aside, maybe the industry isn’t the problem.
What books on writing & publishing do you recommend? How much can these books actually help?